In this issue:                                                                       February, 2013

Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Planning
National Aged Care Reform
Positive Ageing Forum
Maternal and Child Health Review and Consultation Process
Prevention of Violence against Women
Regional Advisory Councils
Universal Access to Early Childhood Education
Early Years Capital Survey
New statewide outdoor smoking bans
Local government outdoor smoking activities
New Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework
Closing the Gap through Place-Based Employment
Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey
Diversity and Social Cohesion Program
Healthy Cities
Victorian Local Government Multicultural Issues Network
Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people closer
Interesting tid bits…
Events

Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Planning

The Department of Health has published a new Guide to Municipal Public Health Planning. This guide has been developed to assist local government planners in meeting the requirements under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, including consideration of the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan.

A number of supplementary resources are available that provide specific advice about particular legislative and planning requirements of councils, including:

  • A practical guide to conducting annual reviews of MPHWPs – this resource provides a practical step-by-step guide to conducting an annual review of Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans (MPHWPs), as required by s. 26(4) of the Act.
  • Including public health and wellbeing matters in the council plan or strategic plan – this resource will assist councils to consider the legislative and operational implications of including public health and wellbeing matters in their council plan, as allowed by s. 27 of the Act.
  • Municipal public health and wellbeing planning: Having regard to climate change – this resource is designed to assist councils in meeting their obligations under the Climate Change Act 2010, with s. 14 identifying councils as one of the decision-makers that must consider climate change during the preparation of a MPHWP.

The guide and the supplementary resources are all available on the Department of Health website.

National Aged Care Reform

The Minister for Mental Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler has asked the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) to form and convene a number of advisory groups to advance the Living Longer Living Better aged care reform agenda.

The Home Support Advisory Group was formed in December to advise on the implementation steps to establish the national Home Support program from 2015. This program will combine and re-develop a number of existing programs, including the Commonwealth HACC program in all states other than Victoria and Western Australia.

Although the MAV is not a NACA member, the federal Department of Health and Ageing has asked NACA to include the MAV as a Victorian representative, and also invited the Victorian Department of Health to represent state officials from Victoria and WA. This representation provides an opportunity for Victorian and local government perspectives on community care to be considered in the development of the national program.

For further information contact Clare Hargreaves.

Positive Ageing Forum

The MAV Statewide Positive Ageing Forum will be held on 14 March at the Rendezvous Hotel, Melbourne. This forum is targeted at local government staff in ageing and inclusion including Aged and Disability Service Managers and staff with roles in planning for ageing communities; aged services program managers; positive ageing staff; social planners; and social policy staff. 

This forum will include a range of speakers across the topics of age friendly communities, senior citizens centres and clubs. A number of panels will provide an opportunity for short presentations and reflection on new ideas and directions emerging from councils across the state as they better support their ageing residents. Topics will include age friendly communities, senior citizens clubs and centres, new ideas for small communities and planning for ageing communities.

For further information contact Jan Bruce.

Maternal and Child Health Review and Consultation Process

The MAV, in partnership with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), have formed a steering committee for the Maternal and Child Health Service Review. A draft consultation strategy paper has been prepared by the MAV as part of the review. All councils will be invited to participate in the consultation process led by the MAV commencing in March.

For further information contact Clare Hargreaves or Joanne Fittock.

Prevention of Violence against Women

The MAV Preventing Violence Against Women (PVAW) program is in the process of finalising a number of exciting pieces of work, including a summary document of MAV’s PVAW achievements over the past eighteen months, and case studies of councils’ innovative work in this space. This will be circulated to all councils in the coming weeks. The MAV is also working on a fact sheet for councils on ‘Gender and Emergency Management’, highlighting the benefits in considering gender in planning, response and recovery processes.

The MAV Preventing Violence Against Women Network will hold its first meeting for 2013 on Wednesday 20 March from 1 to 3.30 pm (lunch and networking from 12.30 pm). The agenda includes presentations from the three council cluster projects funded by the Office of Women’s Affairs. Please register your attendance for the March network meeting for planning and catering purposes by 13 March.

For further information, or to receive regular PVAW email updates, contact Kellie Nagle on 9667 5585.

Regional Advisory Councils

In 2012 the Victorian Multicultural Commission established eight Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) across the state. The aims of the RACs are to: provide advice to the Commission on settlement, multicultural affairs, service delivery and citizenship issues; advocate on behalf of CALD communities; and promote the benefits of cultural and religious diversity at the local level. Three RACs are based in Melbourne and five are based in regional Victoria. Each of the eight RACs has up to thirteen appointed members (including up to three from councils) and meet three times a year.

To suggest an issue for deliberation by your local RAC, please advise your local government RAC representatives. Please let Con Pagonis at the MAV know if there is an issue you would like our Multicultural Committee to coordinate with local government representatives across the eight RACs.

Universal Access to Early Childhood Education

Bilateral negotiations for the National Partnership on Early Childhood Education are due to be discussed at the April COAG meeting.

The majority of Victorian kindergartens (1 840) are moving to 15 hours in 2013. The remaining 195 are mainly standalone, larger kindergartens in metropolitan municipalities. MAV work will focus on one-on-one or regional work with councils to address more complex challenges around infrastructure, workforce, cultural change and kindergarten participation. DEECD has new kindergarten participation data drilled down to a local level, which will also be made available to councils for their planning purposes.

The MAV is also undertaking some preliminary work on the potential for developing a more formal arrangement with DEECD in collaboration with all councils, that protects and recognises councils’ role in kindergarten/early years provision, and includes consideration of funding arrangements for the future.

Early Years Capital Survey

A survey of council expenditure on early years capital 2009-12 was undertaken and analysed to support ongoing advocacy in the kindergarten capital campaign. To date, the 67 councils who have responded have spent $215 million of their own funds and attracted a further $134 million of government funds from a diverse range of State and Commonwealth departments. However councils estimate a further $280 million is still needed to meet population growth and requirements for all the early childhood reforms.

For further information contact Jan Barrett.

New statewide outdoor smoking bans

The Victorian Government has announced it will be amending the Victorian Tobacco Act to introduce statewide smoking bans at children’s playgrounds, public swimming pools and sea baths, children’s sporting grounds and other recreational areas such as skate parks. A technical issues paper on the implementation of these reforms will be distributed at the end of February inviting responses from local government, sporting groups and organisations involved in children’s sport, for comment over a six week period.

These bans follow on from the smoking bans between the flags on patrolled beaches which were introduced this summer. The MAV welcomes the announcement which is in line with recommendations we made to the Minister for Health in 2011 following an extensive consultation process with councils. In relation to these specific proposals, we will review the details of the technical paper once it’s available, and gain council feedback about transition and implementation issues. We have also recommended that a widespread information campaign be undertaken to build community understanding and awareness of the proposed new bans.

Local government outdoor smoking activities

The results from the latest Heart Foundation/Quit Victoria survey of outdoor smoking activities being undertaken in local government show that more than half of Victorian councils now have a smoke-free policy in an outdoor area, with 13 more councils developing policies since the last survey conducted in 2011.

The most common areas with a local smoking ban continue to be entrances to council buildings, swimming pools and playgrounds. There has also been a substantial increase in smoke-free policies at council events and sporting fields.

For further information contact Rosemary Hancock.

New Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework

The Victorian Government has released a new Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2013-2018. This overarching framework for Aboriginal affairs outlines the strategic action areas where the Government will be focusing its efforts.

These include strengthening Aboriginal culture; building economic participation and prosperity; and improving service systems, including services that support and protect vulnerable children and families. For the first time, this framework gives greater recognition to the critical role of local government services for Aboriginal people and the potential for stronger partnerships (see page 19).

As well as providing insight to the priorities of the Victorian Government, it also provides a statewide context for councils seeking, through their own programs, to reduce some of the negative social and economic indicators that continue to be experienced by many Indigenous Victorians.

Closing the Gap through Place-Based Employment

A National Local Government Indigenous Employment Position Paper, Closing the Gap through Place-based Employment was released late last year by the Local Government Managers Association (LGMA) and the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) to encourage and facilitate increased Indigenous workforce participation in local government. 

Developed in response to the considerable workforce challenges that lie ahead for the sector, the paper outlines actions that councils could consider in developing their approach to increasing the employment of Indigenous people in their workforce, with a focus on what councillors and senior council management can do. A business case for Indigenous employment in local government is included, as well as a continuum of eight elements and 21 specific actions that councils can consider to develop their own strategies for increasing the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey 2012

Councils will have received copies of the results of the Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey undertaken last year by Reconciliation Victoria. Over 95 per cent of councils responded. The results show that many Victorian councils are engaging with Aboriginal communities and promoting reconciliation, with a significant increase in activities and commitments in the sector over the past decade.  Councils have been provided with a report of their own responses compared with statewide responses in addition to the Overview Report.

Diversity and Social Cohesion Program

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Diversity and Social Cohesion Program (DSCP) application round for 2013-14 opened on 1 February. The DSCP provides the additional resources often needed by councils and not-for-profit community organisations to develop their own projects and find their own ways of helping their community build stronger community relations.

Councils and community organisations can apply for funding of up to $50 000 to develop projects that aim to address issues of cultural, racial or religious intolerance or to develop community capacity-building skills. Projects must provide an opportunity for participation and interaction by different members of the community. Applications must be lodged by 5 pm on Friday 1 March.

Healthy Cities

In early February, the MAV and VicHealth hosted a forum with public health expert, Dr Karen Lee from New York City.

The evidence of a chronic disease epidemic is stark in her presentation. Some of her suggested responses to this epidemic are simple and cost-effective, but require collaboration and buy-in from other government departments such as transport, infrastructure, and education; and of course political will.

Jenny Macaffer from Mornington Peninsula Shire and Malcolm McCall from the City of Yarra assisted in providing a local context to the forum. The Project for Public Spaces website also provides a range of examples from place-making to right-sizing streets and economic development.

Victorian Local Government Multicultural Issues Network

Like the MAV’s Multicultural Issues eNetwork, the Victorian Local Government Multicultural Issues Network (VLGMIN) shares information between councils and advocates on behalf of councils, and promotes best practice in addressing cultural diversity. Its primary members are local government officers responsible for multicultural services and policy development. VLGMIN holds bi-monthly meetings at the MAV, and holds an annual forum which this year will focus on culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people’s participation in local government workforce.

The VLGMIN has been established for 25 years and works in a close partnership with the MAV. The first VLGMIN meeting for this year was held on 12 February. To join, and receive meeting notifications, agenda papers and other material, email VLGMIN secretary Biljana Komnenovic or phone (03) 9239 5265.

Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a step closer

Australia has moved closer towards constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with an Act of Recognition being passed by the Australian Parliament on 13 February 2013, the anniversary of the Apology made by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Act recognises the unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people in Australia and acknowledges in law that they are the first inhabitants of Australia. It commits the Parliament to placing before the Australian people at a referendum a proposal for constitutional recognition of ATSI people, and that it will undertake further engagement to refine the actual wording of a referendum question and build the support necessary for successful constitutional change.

A sunset date of two years will assist in building momentum and ensure the focus remains on the ultimate goal of a successful referendum. The Act received bipartisan support from all parties and independent members.

Interesting tid bits…

Early Years
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has released two important documents – The Kindergarten Guide 2013 and The State of Victoria’s Children 2011 report.

Fifth Anniversary of the National Apology
Reconciliation Victoria commemorated the fifth anniversary of the National Apology on Wednesday 13 February at Federation Square with a free breakfast, speeches, a performance by the Kutcha Edwards Trio and a screening of Kevin Rudd's Apology Speech.

Upcoming MAV events...

22 February

MCH nurses conference
9 am - 3 pm
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre or video conferencing in regional areas.

14 March

Positive ageing forum
9 am - 4.30 pm
Rendezvous Hotel, Melbourne

20 March

PVAW network meeting
12.30 pm - 3.30 pm
MAV office, Melbourne

 

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